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  1. Abstract

    The cool hypergiant star RW Cephei is currently in a deep photometric minimum that began several years ago. This event bears a strong similarity to the Great Dimming of the red supergiant Betelgeuse that occurred in 2019–2020. We present the first resolved images of RW Cephei that we obtained with the CHARA Array interferometer. The angular diameter and Gaia distance estimates indicate a stellar radius of 900–1760R, which makes RW Cephei one of the largest stars known in the Milky Way. The reconstructed, near-infrared images show a striking asymmetry in the disk illumination with a bright patch offset from the center and a darker zone to the west. The imaging results depend on assumptions made about the extended flux, and we present two cases with and without allowing extended emission. We also present a recent near-infrared spectrum of RW Cep that demonstrates that the fading is much larger at visual wavelengths compared to that at near-infrared wavelengths as expected for extinction by dust. We suggest that the star’s dimming is the result of a recent surface mass ejection event that created a dust cloud that now partially blocks the stellar photosphere.

     
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  2. Abstract

    We present measurements of the interferometrically resolved binary star system 12 Com and the single giant star 31 Com in the cluster Coma Berenices. 12 Com is a double-lined spectroscopic binary system consisting of a G7 giant and an A3 dwarf at the cluster turnoff. Using an extensive radial velocity data set and interferometric measurements from the Palomar Testbed Interferometer and the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy array, we measured massesM1= 2.64 ± 0.07MandM2= 2.10 ± 0.03M. Interferometry also allows us to resolve the giant and measure its size asR1= 9.12 ± 0.12 ± 0.01R. With the measured masses and radii, we find an age of 533 ± 41 ± 42 Myr. For comparison, we measure the radius of 31 Com to be 8.36 ± 0.15R. Based on the photometry and radius measurements, 12 Com A is likely the most evolved bright star in the cluster, large enough to be in the red giant phase, but too small to have core helium burning. Simultaneous knowledge of 12 Com A’s mass and photometry puts strong constraints on convective core overshooting during the main-sequence phase, which in turn reduces systematic uncertainties in the age. Increased precision in measuring this system also improves our knowledge of the progenitor of the cluster white dwarf WD1216+260.

     
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  3. Abstract

    Some evolved binaries, namely post–asymptotic giant branch (AGB) binaries, are surrounded by stable and massive circumbinary disks similar to protoplanetary disks found around young stars. Around 10% of these disks are transition disks: they have a large inner cavity in the dust. Previous interferometric measurements and modeling have ruled out these cavities being formed by dust sublimation and suggested that they are due to massive circumbinary planets that trap dust in the disk and produce the observed depletion of refractory elements on the surfaces of the post-AGB stars. In this study, we test an alternative scenario in which the large cavities could be due to dynamical truncation from the inner binary. We performed near-infrared interferometric observations with the CHARA Array on the archetype of such a transition disk around a post-AGB binary: AC Her. We detect the companion at ten epochs over 4 yr and determine the three-dimensional orbit using these astrometric measurements in combination with a radial velocity time series. This is the first astrometric orbit constructed for a post-AGB binary system. We derive the best-fit orbit with a semimajor axis of 2.01 ± 0.01 mas (2.83 ± 0.08 au), inclination (142.9 ± 1.1)°, and longitude of the ascending node (155.1 ± 1.8)°. We find that the theoretical dynamical truncation and dust sublimation radii are at least ∼3× smaller than the observed inner disk radius (∼21.5 mas or 30 au). This strengthens the hypothesis that the origin of the cavity is due to the presence of a circumbinary planet.

     
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  4. Abstract

    The inner regions of protoplanetary disks host many complex physical processes such as star–disk interactions, magnetic fields, planet formation, and the migration of new planets. To study directly this region requires milliarcsecond angular resolution, beyond the diffraction limit of the world's largest optical telescopes and even too small for the millimeter-wave interferometer Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA). However, we can use infrared interferometers to image the inner astronomical unit. Here, we present new results from the CHARA and VLTI arrays for the young and luminous Herbig Be star HD 190073. We detect a sub-astronomical unit (sub-AU) cavity surrounded by a ring-like structure that we interpret as the dust destruction front. We model the shape with six radial profiles, three symmetric and three asymmetric, and present a model-free image reconstruction. All the models are consistent with a near face-on disk with an inclination ≲20°, and we measure an average ring radius of 1.4 ± 0.2 mas (1.14 au). Around 48% of the total flux comes from the disk with 15% of that emission appearing to emerge from inside the inner rim. The cause of emission is still unclear, perhaps due to different dust grain compositions or gas emission. The skewed models and the imaging point to an off-center star, possibly due to binarity. Our image shows sub-AU structure, which seems to move between the two epochs inconsistently with Keplerian motion and we discuss possible explanations for this apparent change.

     
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  5. Abstract

    Castor is a system of six stars in which the two brighter objects, Castor A and B, revolve around each other every ∼450 yr and are both short-period spectroscopic binaries. They are attended by the more distant Castor C, which is also a binary. Here we report interferometric observations with the Center for High Angular Resolution Astronomy (CHARA) array that spatially resolve the companions in Castor A and B for the first time. We complement these observations with new radial velocity measurements of A and B spanning 30 yr, with the Hipparcos intermediate data, and with existing astrometric observations of the visual AB pair obtained over the past three centuries. We perform a joint orbital solution to solve simultaneously for the three-dimensional orbits of Castor A and B as well as the AB orbit. We find that they are far from being coplanar: the orbit of A is nearly at right angles (92°) relative to the wide orbit, and that of B is inclined about 59° compared to AB. We determine the dynamical masses of the four stars in Castor A and B to a precision better than 1%. We also determine the radii of the primary stars of both subsystems from their angular diameters measured with the CHARA array, and use them together with stellar evolution models to infer an age for the system of 290 Myr. The new knowledge of the orbits enables us to measure the slow motion of Castor C as well, which may assist future studies of the dynamical evolution of this remarkable sextuple system.

     
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  6. Abstract

    Because many classical Be stars may owe their nature to mass and angular-momentum transfer in a close binary, the present masses, temperatures, and radii of their components are of high interest for comparison to stellar evolution models. ObjectκDra is a 61.5 day single-lined binary with a B6 IIIe primary. With the CHARA Array instruments MIRC/MIRC-X and MYSTIC, we detected the secondary at (approximately photospheric) flux ratios of 1.49% ± 0.10% and 1.63% ± 0.09% in theHandKband, respectively. From a large and diverse optical spectroscopic database, only the radial velocity curve of the Be star could be extracted. However, employing the parallaxes from Hipparcos and Gaia, which agree within their nominal 1σerrors, we could derive the total mass and found component masses of 3.65 ± 0.48 and 0.426 ± 0.043Mfor the Be star and the companion, respectively. Previous cross-correlation of the observed FUV spectrum with O-type subdwarf (sdO) spectral model templates had not detected a companion belonging to the hot sdO population known from ∼20 earlier-type Be stars. Guided by our full 3D orbital solution, we found a strong cross-correlation signal for a stripped subdwarf B-type companion (FUV flux ratio of 2.3% ± 0.5%), enabling the first firm characterization of such a star and makingκDra the first mid- to late-type Be star with a directly observed subdwarf companion.

     
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  7. Abstract

    We observe the brightest member of the Praesepe cluster,ϵCnc, to precisely measure the characteristics of the stars in this binary system, en route to a new measurement of the cluster’s age. We present spectroscopic radial velocity measurements and interferometric observations of the sky-projected orbit to derive the masses, which we find to beM1/M= 2.420 ± 0.008 andM2/M= 2.226 ± 0.004. We place limits on the color–magnitude positions of the stars by using spectroscopic and interferometric luminosity ratios while trying to reproduce the spectral energy distribution ofϵCnc. We reexamine the cluster membership of stars at the bright end of the color–magnitude diagram using Gaia data and literature radial velocity information. The binary star data are consistent with an age of 637 ± 19 Myr, as determined from MIST model isochrones. The masses and luminosities of the stars appear to select models with the most commonly used amount of convective core overshooting.

     
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  8. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  9. Context . The study of the multiplicity of massive stars gives hints on their formation processes and their evolutionary paths, which are still not fully understood. Large separation binaries (>50 milliseconds of arc, mas) can be probed by adaptive-optics-assisted direct imaging and sparse aperture masking, while close binaries can be resolved by photometry and spectroscopy. However, optical long baseline interferometry is mandatory to establish the multiplicity of Galactic massive stars at the separation gap between 1 and 50 mas. Aims . In this paper, we aim to demonstrate the capability of the new interferometric instrument MIRC-X, located at the CHARA Array, to study the multiplicity of O-type stars and therefore probe the full range of separation for more than 120 massive stars ( H < 7 . 5 mag). Methods . We initiated a pilot survey of bright O-type stars ( H < 6.5 mag) observable with MIRC-X. We observed 29 O-type stars, including two systems in average atmospheric conditions around a magnitude of H = 7.5 mag. We systematically reduced the obtained data with the public reduction pipeline of the instrument. We analyzed the reduced data using the dedicated python software CANDID to detect companions. Results . Out of these 29 systems, we resolved 19 companions in 17 different systems with angular separations between ~0.5 and 50 mas. This results in a multiplicity fraction ƒ m = 17/29 = 0.59 ± 0.09, and an average number of companions ƒ c = 19/29 = 0.66 ± 0.13. Those results are in agreement with the results of the SMASH+ survey in the Southern Hemisphere. Thirteen of these companions have been resolved for the first time, including the companion responsible for the nonthermal emission in Cyg OB2-5 A and the confirmation of the candidate companion of HD 47129 suggested by SMASH+. Conclusions . A large survey on more than 120 northern O-type stars ( H < 7.5) is possible with MIRC-X and will be fruitful. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2024
  10. Abstract We present preliminary results from our long-baseline interferometry (LBI) survey to constrain the multiplicity properties of intermediate-mass A-type stars within 80 pc. Previous multiplicity studies of nearby stars exhibit orbital separation distributions well fitted with a lognormal with peaks >15 au, increasing with primary mass. The A-star multiplicity survey of De Rosa et al., sensitive beyond 30 au but incomplete below 100 au, found a lognormal peak around 390 au. Radial velocity surveys of slowly rotating, chemically peculiar Am stars identified a significant number of very close companions with periods ≤5 days, ∼0.1 au, a result similar to surveys of O- and B-type primaries. With the improved performance of LBI techniques, we can probe these close separations for normal A-type stars where other surveys are incomplete. Our initial sample consists of 27 A-type primaries with estimated masses between 1.44 and 2.49 M ⊙ and ages 10–790 Myr, which we observed with the MIRC-X instrument at the CHARA Array. We use the open-source software CANDID to detect five companions, three of which are new, and derive a companion frequency of 0.19 − 0.06 + 0.11 over mass ratios of 0.25–1.0 and projected separations of 0.288–5.481 au. We find a probability of 10 −6 that our results are consistent with extrapolations based on previous models of the A-star companion population over the mass ratios and separations sampled. Our results show the need to explore these very close separations to inform our understanding of stellar formation and evolution processes. 
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